Worker representation and participation

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When do the new WHS laws come into effect?

WA’s Work Health and Safety legislation is not expected to come into force until early 2022. This means that the current occupational, mines safety and petroleum safety legislation still applies.

This information is designed to help WA organisations and their associated workforces (including volunteers) prepare for the new Work Health and Safety laws. More information will be added as it becomes available.

Workers are entitled to:

  • elect a health and safety representative (HSR) if they wish to be represented by one
  • request the formation of a health and safety committee 
  • cease unsafe work in certain circumstances 
  • have health and safety issues at the workplace resolved through an agreed issue resolution procedure
  • not be discriminated against for raising health and safety issues.

Health and safety representatives

Known as safety and health representatives under current legislation, a health and safety representative (HSR) is a person elected by a work group they are a member of to represent the health and safety interests of the group. 

Any worker can ask the PCBU they are doing work for to facilitate the election of one or more HSRs for the workplace. There can be as many HSRs and deputy HSRs as needed after consultation, negotiation and agreement between workers and the PCBU.

Once determined, the PCBU must keep a current list of all HSRs and deputy HSRs for the workplace(s) and display a copy at the relevant workplace. 

A three-year term of office under the Work Health and Safety Act 2020 (WHS Act) applies to HSRs elected after the WHS Act comes into force. 


Transition arrangements for HSRs

When the WHS Act comes into force, transition arrangements will be in place for safety and health representatives (SHReps) elected under current legislation. 

If formally appointed and their remaining term of office is:

  • less than 12 months: SHRep completes their existing term; or 
  • greater than 12 months: SHRep term expires at 12 months; or

If an elected safety and health representative has not been formally appointed by the date that the WHS laws commence: term of office is 12 months.

Looking for more information? 

For detailed information on representation and participation of workers under the Act, refer to the Overview of Western Australia’s Work Health and Safety Act 2020.

Note: The Department is developing a code of practice on consultation processes.

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